Incoming students in New Jersey’s two law schools received well-wishes and words of encouragement from the New Jersey State Bar Association as they entered orientation last week to start the school year.
NJSBA President Timonthy F. McGoughran visited the law school campuses at Rutgers Camden and Seton Hall – his alma mater – to administer the Lawyer’s Pledge to students, an oath that outlines the ideals of the profession. In a welcoming ceremony at Seton Hall, McGoughran said the class of future lawyers will only know the practice of law in a post-pandemic world, one that is embracing technology in almost every facet, from virtual hearings to artificial intelligence.
“In a rapidly changing world, we need your optimism, your idealism and your sincere desire to make a difference by becoming a lawyer,” he said.
McGoughran, who is the third consecutive NJSBA president to attend Seton Hall Law, told students that he sat in their chair nearly 40 years ago to the day. Now a successful family law attorney, he credited the law school experience with sparking his passion for the law and imbuing him with a sense of purpose to help people in need.
“If you enjoy being a lawyer, as I have, it will be infectious. You will not work a day in your life,” McGoughran said. “You have the great opportunity to help people in society, to shape society. The graduates that I’ve known who have come through this school have shaped society for the better. I’m proud to be an alumni.”
McGoughran extolled the benefits of an NJSBA membership, which is free for law students. As part of a network of more than 16,500 attorneys, students will have access to a job bank with full-time positions and internships, he said. The Association is also crucial for making personal connections that lead to opportunities—whether it’s employment with a law firm, a judicial clerkship or a career in the public sector.
“We can help you put your developing skills as a lawyer to great use, whether it’s helping you find volunteer opportunities with a legal services organization, mentoring a child who needs a representative in court, or working in the governmental process,” McGoughran said. “Most importantly, we will help you make the personal connections that lead to opportunities. The NJSBA wants to become your professional family and home.”
McGoughran also encouraged students to avail themselves of free mental health counseling through the NJSBA’s . When the rigors of law school weigh heavy, students can reach a mental health professional 24 hours a day through the program by phone, text or mobile access. They can also schedule individual counseling sessions and access a wellness library of more than 25,000 self-help resources, he said.
“You’re going to have some stressful days,” McGoughran said. “This service is there if you need it.”
McGoughran will sit for a panel discussion on professionalism and decorum in the classroom at the Rutgers Law School – Newark campus in November.